- National Teams
Standard Life GB Women’s head coach Damian Jennings says his side are on track to shine at next month’s EuroBasket Women, despite a narrow 69-66 defeat to Greece on Monday in the final game of the Standard Life British Basketball Invitational Tournament at Surrey Sports Park.
In a game that went down to the wire, the hosts rallied from six points down in the last minute but could not quite force overtime. Nevertheless Jennings believes the four-nation tournament, won by the Greeks, has toughened his squad up for their European adventure in France next month.
“It’s a difficult situation,” said Jennings of the final play. “With three weeks’ preparation we’re not ready to be to be in those types of situations yet, but it was a coaching decision to layer our learning and we’ll be ready for EuroBasket.”
GB trailed by seven points for a large part of the second period, but hit back late in the quarter. Rachel Vanderwal sank a baseline jumper that sparked an 8-0 run for GB, edging into a 32-31 lead through Dominique Allen.
A free-throw for Greece tied the game with six seconds remaining but Lauren Thomas-Johnson downed a basket at the buzzer that gave the home side a 34-32 halftime lead.
In the third quarter, GB took control of the game, taking a 50-42 lead on a baseline jumper from Thomas-Johnson, before the Greeks hit back to cut the deficit to 52-50, heading into the final ten minutes.
The teams traded baskets in the fourth and were tied 61-61 with a little over two minutes remaining. However the visitors took control with a 6-0 run with a minute left that ultimately proved decisive.
“I think Greece started by setting the tone and then we came out and finished the half really well,” said Allen, who scored a team-best 10 points.
“It’s been an amazing weekend, we’ve only been together for two or three weeks. I think it’s been a great tournament and now we’ve got stuff to work on before next weekend.”
GB conclude their pre-EuroBasket schedule next weekend when they head to Sweden for a three-team tournament, where they will take on the hosts as well as Turkey and Latvia.
“Next weekend will be a great test and we’re looking forward to it,” said Jennings. “Ultimately we have three very tough teams in our EuroBasket group so to play Sweden, Turkey and Latvia will be a great test.”
The win for Greece confirmed them as tournament winners, Great Britain finished second, with Germany finishing third following their 72-67 win over Israel on Monday.
British Basketball’s National Teams Director, Warwick Cann summed up the tournament and the progress so far, he said: ” I think the coaching team are making good progress in preparing the team. The players are committed and the collective GB spirit is very good. A number of young players have also been introduced to international senior competition and now our focus is not only on EuroBasket but beyond.”